Sylvia Fowles expressed her desire to play for a different team this season. After weeks of discussions with the Minnesota Lynx, the Sky front office finally got the ROI they wanted and pulled the trigger on a deal that sends the All-Star, Olympian center to Minnesota and will receive center Erika de Souza from the Atlanta Dream. “Erika brings veteran leadership, a versatile skill-set and defensive intensity that will complement our existing core,” said Sky Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman. “Her presence in the paint will be extremely valuable as we enter the second half of the season.”
The Deal: Fowles along with Chicago’s 2016 second round draft pick in a three-team deal that sends Damiris Dantas, Reshanda Gray and its 2016 first round pick to the Atlanta Dream. As part of the deal, Atlanta sends Erika de Souza to Chicago.
De Souza, now in her 10th WNBA season, started in all 17 games for the Dream during the first half of the 2015 season averaging 8.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while maintaining a 45.9% field goal percentage. In her WNBA career, the 6-foot-5 center has played in 254 regular season games, for three teams (Los Angeles, Connecticut, Atlanta). De Souza is a three-time WNBA All-Star (2009, 2013, 2014) with career averages of 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. She is Atlanta’s current all-time leader in rebounds (1, 784), double-doubles (68), and games played (211). A product of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, De Souza signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001. She played one season each with the Sparks (2002) and the Connecticut Sun (2007) before joining the Dream via the 2008 expansion draft.
“We’re excited to welcome Sylvia to the Minnesota Lynx organization,” said Executive Vice President Roger Griffith. “She’s a proven, defensive All-Star player and we expect her to step in and be a great leader on and off the court. She’s been one of the elite centers in the WNBA and will be a key addition to our championship caliber roster.”
Originally drafted second overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky, Fowles has averaged 15.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 186 career regular season WNBA games (177 starts), all with Chicago. She was named a WNBA All-Star in 2009, 2011 and 2013 and is a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the year (2011, 2013). Fowles is a two-time All-WNBA First Team selection (2010, 2013), as well as a four time All-WNBA Defensive First Team selection (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).
The 6’6 center averaged 13.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game to help the Chicago Sky to a 15-19 record and the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. She played in just 20 games in 2014 after being sidelined to start the season due to hip injury. Fowles aided the Sky in 2013 to a 24-10 mark, its best record in franchise history, the Eastern Conference season title and the Sky’s first playoff berth. She averaged 16.3 points per game and a league-best 11.5 rebounds. In 2011, Fowles averaged 20.0 points (3rd in the WNBA), 10.2 rebounds (2nd) and a league-best 2.0 blocks per game. In 2012, she shot a league-best 63.8% from the floor in 25 games (all starts), the third-highest single season field goal percentage in WNBA history.
Fowles will be the fourth Olympian on the Minnesota Lynx roster, joining Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen. She won Olympic gold medals with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games. She currently ranks seventh all-time among U.S. Olympic career record holders for rebounds (85) and eighth for field goal percentage (.643) through two Olympiads.
Prior to the WNBA, Fowles played for Louisiana State University from 2004-2008. During her four years, she helped lead LSU to a 125-21 record (.856), three Southeastern Conference regular season titles, twice earning perfect league records, and four NCAA Finals Fours. She was named the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player three times (2006, 2007, 2008) and was named WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. In her freshman and sophomore seasons (2004-06), Fowles teamed up with current Lynx guard Seimone Augustus.
Dantas, originally drafted by Minnesota with the 12 overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft, heads to Atlanta after averaging 5.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in her two seasons with Minnesota. Gray heads to Atlanta having played in 10 games for the Lynx averaging 0.6 points and 1.0 rebounds in her rookie season.